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Social Contact Management - keep in touch everywhere

August 02, 2010 by Nigel Legg

About a month ago, I attended a presentation and workshop on marketing where the presenter, Helen Dowling of Exceptional Thinking, said that the most important part of marketing is to have a way to follow up, and then to follow up. We all come back from seminars and networking events with pockets full of business cards; how many of us actually make use of them?

With the development of social media, the channels through which you can follow up have multiplied, and it is no longer necessary to email everyone you met – some people may warrant an @mention on Twitter, others a connection request on LinkedIn, while others will require an email, and lastly some will need a phone call.

This diversity of follow up opportunities means that you need to have a means to decide who gets what. Hopefully you will have an idea of how likely it is that you will do business with each of the people you met, and so you can use this to decide how you will follow up with them: the most likely you can phone; the least likely you can say ‘Hi’ to on Twitter.

Whatever means you use to do your initial follow-up, you need to have a record of what was said, where, through what channel, and by and to whom. As your business grows it will very soon become difficult to keep track using pen and paper, and so a Contact Management System on a computer and/or smart phone becomes essential.

Choosing a Contact Management System can be a difficult task, especially if you want it to work with Social Media. And Contact Management Systems can be expensive – though a lot of people are using the Outlook Contact Manager add-on successfully, which is part of the Microsoft Office Small business package. Other options include Gist, ContactZilla and Glasscubes, to name a few.

I am always on the lookout for solutions, and am in a position to help and advise you on the best solution for contact management with social media, should you need it.

  • Nigel Legg is an independent social media monitoring and marketing consultant based in Bristol, UK.

Dragons' Den digest: Week 3

July 27, 2010 by Cat Arnold

A slight shift from Wednesday to Monday for the remainder of this series of Dragons' Den. It will take more than that to catch us off guard.

If you missed last week's, catch up here and below you will find the highlights of episode three.

Quote of the Episode: "If you were to wear glasses you'd look a bit like Theo" Peter Jones

Idea 1
Product:
 Tatty Bumpkin - ethical children's brand
Investment sought: £200,000 for 20 per cent
Handling: A confident start but confused the Dragons with so many aspects of the business. She demonstrated one of the classes when Peter Jones questioned what her business is about. An argument broke out when questioned about her brand and she became defensive.
Outcome: No offers
Verdict: Lots of ambition but not a strong enough brand and an unrealistic business model.

Idea 2
Product:
Golfers' Mate - a pitch repair multi-tool
Investment sought: £100,000  for 12.5 per cent
Handling: A very shaky start, had to restart the pitch three times. Eventually recovered but was instantly faced with harsh criticism from the Dragons. He gave jokey responses to the Dragons' questions, which didn't impress them.
Outcome: James Caan offer: £100k for 30 per cent share – negotiated to 25 per cent with a proviso that they could buy back 15 per cent when James gets his £100k investment back, retaining a 10 per cent share – accepted
Verdict: Not a great pitch and quite blasé when questioned, however he managed to impress with his confidence in receiving bulk orders from large potential clients, which was enough to seal the deal.

Idea 3
Product:
Aquatina - a collapsable drinks bottle that can be re-used
Investment sought: £100,000  for 10 per cent equity
Handling: A very confident pitch but the Dragons found it hard to see the point of the product. Duncan Bannatyne became quite irate and threw the product across the den. As the questioning continued, the Dragons became more hostile, accusing him of 'pulling the wool over their eyes' and misleading them in regards to the point of the product.
Outcome: No offers
Verdict:
The Dragons struggled to see the point of the product and felt it was not a solution to the problem it was designed to solve.

Idea 4
Product:
FGH security - Manned security company
Investment sought:
£75,000 for 10 per cent
Handling:
An excellent pitch, very knowledgeable and instantly likeable. They presented an excellent business proposition which was attractive to all of the dragons. James Caan made an offer within minutes and was soon followed by the others. Deborah Meaden said she was finding it hard to think of reasons not to invest.
Outcome:
Joint offer – Peter Jones 50k for 10 per cent and Theo Phaphitis 50k for 10 per cent with 5 per cent of the equity given back to FGH when the investment is repaid. Offer accepted
Verdict:
A highly professional pitch which offered the Dragons an extremely attractive business proposition.

What did you think of the episode?

Related articles:

Our take on networking

July 26, 2010 by Sian Lenegan

Networking is a great and powerful way to meet people, get your name and business cards out there and even win some new business. We've done our fair share of networking now, and quite successfully, but it's always surprising that some business people out there make a few mistakes that are a huge turn off.

Here are top tips, dos and don'ts from your team at ahp design:

  • Do you have an elevator pitch prepared? Is it exciting and interesting or do people start looking around the room for their next target? I'm not saying it has to be the world's best motivational speech, but show your passion, know what you are talking about, know your business and read people's signals. If they start to wander, ask an open ended question - people love talking about themselves.
  • A footnote on the elevator pitch - don't take a hard sell approach. Networking is about building relationships. The hard sell will inevitably put people off you right away (huge personal bug bear).
  • Set yourself a goal or work rate. Yeah, the free nibbles and drinks are great but what's the point if you don't come away with meaningful connections?
  • Make sure you have business cards to hand and also make sure that they are quality!
  • Be polite. No one minds if you join their little conversation if you're polite. Read the signals: are they standing in a closed circuit excluding everyone else from joining in? If not, then a "Hello, may I join you?" will go a long way.
  • Please please please refrain from garlic the night before and brush your teeth. Yes it's common sense but you'd be surprised!
  • Be positive and get off your soap box. Do not take networking as an opportunity to air your gripes about the world, the economy and the government. We get enough of that all day, every day, thank you very much.
  • Ready for the kicker... follow up. If you've had a great conversation with some one, follow it up with a phone call, email or whatever feels right. Add your new connections on LinkedIn and Twitter to reinforce your acquaintance.
  • Above all of this, be yourself.

Now go and find yourselves some networking events to attend, go to as many as you can until you find ones that you enjoy and are worthwhile, and then stick with it. It's not a quick win but it will help your business.

Have fun...

What shape is your marketing budget?

June 30, 2010 by Bryony Thomas

The questions I most often get asked about marketing budgets are:

  • How much should I spend as a percentage of turnover?
  • Should I benchmark against competitors?
  • How much shall I spend on each discipline (PR, DM, Events, Ads, etc.)?

All totally reasonable questions… but what you should be asking is: what shape should my marketing budget be? Seriously, it is the most important question there is on the budgeting front. So, let me tell you what I mean.

A decent marketing programme is centred on a sales funnel, onto which you’ve mapped the decision making process for your target audience. (see previous posts Making Marketing Pay, and What to Say When).

Chart to show the influence of marketing spend across the sales funnel

Fig1: Chart to show the influence of marketing spend across the sales funnel

From this you can put together a programme of activity that moves a person from awareness to a sale. Each marketing technique has a different level of influence at each stage of this process. You need to determine the level of influence at each stage, then apportion this across the funnel.

There are a few ways to decide the amount of influence each technique has:

  • Workshop with the sales and marketing team to agree the apportionment
  • Surveys or focus groups amongst new customers to get them to assess what they saw at each stage (this can be tricky, as people often post-rationalise decision-making, meaning that emotional triggers are downplayed)
  • A best guess (hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere)
  • A combination of all of the above.

From this exercise you now have a powerful tool for designing programmes and allocating budget. Now analyse your budget in the same way:

  • Split your spend into each technique
  • Apportion this spend as per the influence amount you’ve worked out for that technique (for example, if you worked out that PR has 40% influence at awareness, 10 per cent at interest, etc. your spend on PR should be tabulated to reflect that)
  • You now have an actual shape for your budget

Compare your actual budget shape to the ideal budget shape you’ve established to maintain a free-flowing sales funnel. This allows you assess where you’re spending too much or too little, and to adjust your spend according to the funnel requirements.

Now, if you have a budget cut, or find a pot of cash, you again have a powerful tool to decide how to adjust your spending. The crucial factor here is to maintain the shape. So, rather than cutting a project that happens to be the right level of spend, you can cut evenly across the funnel ensuring that you’re not leaving any gaps.

Bryony Thomas of Clear Thought Consulting

Ten steps to creating a powerful Facebook page

May 18, 2010 by Wayne Smallman

Facebook won't suddenly transform your business into a superstar sales machine. But it can help you win friends and influence people. But like anything else in life, this is about commitment, effort and starting on the right footing.

A lot of people still get sucked into the idea of thinking "if we build, they will come". And doubly so with Facebook — just because there's a huge audience, it doesn't mean everyone is suddenly going to beat a path to your door!

So it's as well to begin with the basics — think long term, trust in your network of friends and stay focused. With that in mind, here's my ten steps to create a powerful Facebook page: 

  1. Start by creating a page for your business. If you're a business-to-consumer company and you have a product / service, you should create a page and build a community around your brand(s). There are different options for pages, so be sure to pick the right ones. You also have the option to add things like a discussions tab, which is ideal for managing customer feedback.
  2. People love photos, so be sure to post pictures of you and your team both at work and play! You want to connect with your followers, and this is a great way to demonstrate you're real folk, just like everyone else. Also, don't forget to tag your friends in those photos, which will help broaden the exposure of your page.
  3. Quality, not quantity. It's vital that you keep in mind that this is all about attracting the right people. So it's far better to have just 10 people join your page and have five comment and / or share than have 100 people join and only have the same 5 actually interacting. Be sure to focus on people who are relevant to your business and those that may benefit from your page.
  4. Make use of your contacts on Facebook. When you're looking to build up some momentum ahead of a release, use your presence to create buzz with small teasers with your status updates. If each friend or colleague has, on average, 100 friends, then just ten of them joining your page and sharing something you post means you are potentially exposed to a thousand more people.
  5. Generate some buzz and be a tease! Just won a new client? Build on that success and let people know. Be brief and quickly outline what you'll be doing for them. Who knows, someone might pick up on your message and call for more details. And when you've got that exciting new article lined up, post a teasing message and see who bites with an enquiring comment.
  6. Give praise and recognition to your Facebook friends who suggest news, related articles, or who have perhaps even written articles for your company blog. Even better, in the message part, use the @ symbol and then type their name to tag them in the shared item. That way, you're giving them some added exposure. You could score some extra points by tagging a Page of theirs the same way.
  7. If you can't be engaging, be informative. It's not easy being engaging, especially when writing. So if you struggle, make sure you're informative and helpful. Think of the people who are following your page and share relevant content. Also, consider adding a note in the comment area and ask a question or two, to encourage discussion and debate.
  8. Create your own page tab. This will stretch the skills of many, but it's easily accomplished with the help of your web designer. Perhaps you have a portfolio page and you'd like to show off your work? Or maybe you want a snazzy graphic to use as the default tab people see when they come to your page? Either way, you can do all of this quite easily, without too much fuss.
  9. Put a link to your page on your company website, ideally on your contact page or in the footer of your blog pages. This way, when people visit your website, you're driving them towards your page and your burgeoning community.
  10. Get your own page URL name. If you have a page with more than 25 fans, you can get a nice URL name, like the one for Octane, which is facebook.com/octaneinteractive. Just go to the username selection page and choose your name now. Why bother? Facebook is a hugely popular website and ranks very highly on the search engines. So there's a good chance people could find your page on Facebook when they're searching for your business.

Hopefully, that all makes perfect sense and you're inspired enough to venture forth and create an amazing page for your company. And be sure to come back and tell me how you got on!

Wayne Smallman of Octane

35 things I have found to be almost always true

May 12, 2010 by Drayton Bird
  1. Relevance matters more than originality
  2. The most important element in any creative endeavour is the brief
  3. Most clients focus on the wrong things
  4. The urgent takes precedence over the important
  5. The customer you want is like the customer you’ve got
  6. The product and positioning matter more than any other element in marketing
  7. Who you are talking to matters more than what you sell
  8. Database is the heart of marketing
  9. The internet is just accelerated direct marketing
  10. Emotion matters more than logic
  11. The simple letter or email gives the best ROI
  12. Long copy beats short
  13. Incentives always pay
  14. Segmentation is almost invariably worth it
  15. Hardly anyone budgets for marketing intelligently
  16. The customer you’ve got is 4 – 5 times more likely to buy from you than someone identical who is not a customer.
  17. A previous enquirer is about twice as likely to buy
  18. A past customer is usually your next best bet.
  19. After that comes someone who’s recommended
  20. It pays to say thank you
  21. Marketers are suckers for magic bullets
  22. Marketing experts complicate things needlessly
  23. If you say why you are writing, response goes up
  24. Questionnaires almost always pay
  25. Making people choose increases response
  26. Few marketers use enough testimonials
  27. Almost all meetings waste time
  28. Flattery and greed are the two biggest draws
  29. All successful messages solve problems
  30. Sincerity always pays
  31. Few messages ask forcefully enough for action
  32. Repetition pays
  33. People’s faces raise response
  34. The more you communicate, the better you do
  35. Research rarely predicts results accurately

Drayton Bird is a renowned direct marketing teacher, speaker and author. Find out more about him on his profile.

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